Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 91-CR-20467. Honorable James Schreier, Judge Presiding.
As Corrected January 21, 1997. Rehearing Denied February 7, 1997. Released for Publication February 13, 1997.
The Honorable Justice Cerda delivered the opinion of the court. Tully, P.j., and Gallagher, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda
JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:
Following a jury trial, defendant, James Fields, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1 (a)(1)(West 1992)) and sentenced to two terms of natural life imprisonment without parole. On appeal, defendant asserts that (1) he was denied a fair trial by the State's improper use of out-of-court statements; (2) the trial court impermissibly hastened the verdict by telling the jury that their transportation was waiting; and (3) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For the following reasons, we affirm.
On June 8, 1991, Willie Range, James Campbell, and Andrew Rudolph lived with Barbara Wiley, who was Range's sister, at 439 E. 111th Place in Chicago. When Wiley left the apartment at 10 p.m., Range, Campbell, and Charlie Stewart, a friend, were there. When she returned home at 2 a.m., she learned that Range and Campbell had been fatally shot. At 2:25 a.m., Chicago police officer William Peak discovered the bodies on the apartment's dining floor. They were still bleeding.
Dr. Mitra Kalelkar, the assistant Cook County Medical Examiner who performed the autopsies, testified that each of the victims was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head, fired from close range, but the bullets she retrieved from the victims were unsuitable for calibration.
Andrew Rudolph testified that he was asleep in the apartment at 1:30 a.m. on June 9, 1991, when he was awakened by two gunshots. He looked around the apartment and saw two dead people, whom he "did not really" recognize. No one else was in the apartment, so he got up and left.
Rudolph stated that he gave an oral statement at the police station. In that statement, he told the police that he was sleeping on the couch when he was awakened by two gunshots. He looked up and saw defendant standing in the dining room. Defendant looked directly in his face, then walked out of the apartment and down the street. Range and Campbell had been shot and were lying on the dining room floor. Rudolph denied telling the police that defendant's arm was pointing downward toward Range.
Rudolph further testified that he signed a written statement prepared by assistant State's Attorney Daniel Lynch. He admitted that he told Lynch that he was sleeping on the living room couch at 1:15 a.m. on June 9, 1991, but denied saying that Janice White woke him, asking him to sell her rock cocaine. He also denied telling Lynch that he lay back down after the conversation, but could not fall asleep because a lot of people were talking in the apartment and the television, lights, and fan were on.
Rudolph admitted that he told Lynch he was awakened by the first gunshot and he heard a second gunshot three second later. Defendant, who was standing in the dining room, turned toward Rudolph, looked at him, began to walk toward him, then turned and left the apartment. Rudolph got up, saw that Range and Campbell had been shot, and smelled the gunpowder. He did not see any weapons near the bodies or in the hands of the victims. After leaving the apartment, he saw defendant get into a car and drive away. Rudolph denied telling Lynch that no one else was in the apartment at the time of the shooting or that defendant drove away within a minute of the shooting.
In addition, Rudolph stated that he told grand jury on June 10, 1991, that Range, Campbell, and Stewart were in the apartment when he returned at 12:15 a.m. on June 9, 1991. His grand jury testimony was substantially the same as his written statement to Lynch. At trial, Rudolph made the same admissions and denials about his grand jury testimony as he lad about his written statement.
According to Rudolph, he was intoxicated and high on marijuana at the time of the shootings and when he made his statements at the police station. He claimed that he gave his out-of-court statements, which were if composed by the police, because the police threatened several times to charge him as an accessory to murder. Rudolph also stated that he read only part of the written statement before signing it.
Detective Jack Hines testified that he spoke with Rudolph at 7 a.m. on June 9, 1991, in the police station. Rudolph said that he saw defendant in the apartment and that defendant's arm was pointing downward toward Range, who had been shot and was lying under the table. Defendant looked at Rudolph, then walked out of he apartment. After Rudolph saw both victims shot on the dining room floor, he went outside where he saw defendant get into a car and drive away. According to Hines, there was no indication that Rudolph was intoxicated or high on drugs when he gave his statement. Hines denied threatening Rudolph with charges or mistreating him in any way.
After assistant State's Attorney Lynch testified that he took a written statement from Rudolph on June 9, 1991, over objection, he read the entire statement to the jury. Assistant State's Attorney Nancy Black, over objection, read Rudolph's entire grand jury testimony to the jury after she testified that Rudolph did not complain about any mistreatment by the police prior to the grand jury hearing.
Alesha Parks, who has a child with defendant, testified that she had been dating defendant for a year price to the early morning hours of June 9, 1991, when she and defendant walked to 439 E. 111th Place. After Janice White, Range, and another woman let them into the building, White and defendant had a conversation, but Parks could not hear what was being said. When White, Range, and the other woman went upstairs to a second-floor apartment, Parks and defendant remain on the floor. Parks denied that she saw defendant take a gun out of his waistband and put it to a ledge or unscrew the light bulbs. A short time later, White reappeared. Parks testified that White did not come downstairs to talk with defendant, but instead, stayed on the second floor and summoned him. When defendant went upstairs, Parks left to get a jacket and did not return to the building.
Parks gave a written statement to assistant State's Attorney Lynch, in which she stated that defendant came to her house at 12:40 a.m. on June 9, 1991, and asked her to go to a motel to have sex. She did not remember saying that she told defendant her mother would not allow her to leave the front of the house, but she did tell Lynch that they took a walk to 439 E. 111th Place. Once they were inside the vestibule, Parks saw defendant take a gun out of his waistband and put it on the steps. A short time later, White, Range, and another woman came into the building and went upstairs while Parks and defendant continued to talk ...